Temporary Spousal Support
Divorce can be a long process, taking anywhere from a few months to a few years
to complete. However, during that time the parties are still legally married
but living separately and apart. Not only must each spouse cover their
own separate living expenses, but they likely have to cover legal fees
and court costs as well.
If one spouse was primarily responsible for being the “bread-winner”
of the family, while the other was exclusively responsible for taking
care of the home and possibly their children, living separately would
be relatively more expensive for one of them during the divorce process.
To address this issue, courts grant temporary
spousal support orders—also known as spousal support “pendente lite,” which is Latin for “pending litigation.” The purpose
of a temporary spousal support order is to maintain the status quo until
trial. This purpose is distinct from the spousal support a court ultimately
issues at the end of divorce proceedings, as it helps both parties to
honor their existing financial obligations and live at the standard of
living to which they got used to during marriage.
As suggested by its name, a temporary spousal support order is only effective
until the court renders a final divorce judgment, at which time it will
issue a “permanent” spousal support award, which governs the
payment of spousal support after the parties get divorced. Because the
role of temporary spousal support is different from a final spousal support
order, courts are not required to make findings under California Family
Code § 4320.
Permanent Spousal Support
A family law court will issue a “permanent” spousal support
award at the end of divorce proceedings. The purpose of permanent spousal
support is to allow a party with less financial resources to live at the
marital standard of living.
The phrase “permanent spousal support” is a bit of a misnomer because payments may not last indefinitely
and the order can be modified or terminated upon a showing that a
material change in circumstances justifies changing its terms or ending payments altogether. Instead, the
term “permanent” is used to distinguish it from temporary
pendente lite spousal support orders.
An award for permanent spousal support is appropriate if one spouse has
a need for financial assistance after divorce and the other spouse has
the ability to provide such assistance. When determining a permanent spousal
support obligation, courts must consider the factors outlined in California
Family Code § 4320.
Some of the major factors listed under Family Code § 4320 include:
- The duration of the parties’ marriage
- The earning capacity of each party
- The goal of the supported spouse to become financially self-sufficient
within a reasonable time
Duration of Spousal Support Orders
The duration of the parties’ marriage is directly relevant to determining
the duration of a permanent spousal support order. In California, marriages
are divided into two categories for purposes of determining the duration
of a spousal support order: short-term marriages, and long-term marriages.
short-term marriage is one that lasts shorter than ten years, whereas a
long-term marriage is one that lasts ten years or longer.
Under California Family Code § 4336, a “reasonable period of
time” that will allow a party receiving spousal support is generally
half the length of a short-term marriage. Conversely, cases involving
long-term marriages typically warrant an indefinite spousal support duration.
Contact Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich for Effective Legal Advocacy
Issues in divorce cases, such as spousal support, can involve sophisticated
legal rules and concepts. To help protect your legal interests in your
divorce, you should retain the services of an experienced attorney from
Hanson, Gorian, Bradford & Hanich. We have offices located throughout
Get professional legal services for your case by calling Hanson, Gorian,
Bradford & Hanich at (951) 506-6654 for an
initial consultation today.